European planes skirt Belarus amid fury at dissident arrest

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MOSCOW (AP) — European airlines have begun skirting Belarus at the urging of the European Union. The bloc has also imposed new sanctions over the ex-Soviet nation’s forced diversion of a passenger jet to arrest an opposition journalist. The EU leaders agreed Monday to ban Belarusian airlines from using the airspace and airports of the 27-nation bloc and also urged all EU-based carriers to avoid flying over Belarus. On Sunday, Belarusian flight controllers told the crew of a Ryanair jetliner flying from Greece to Lithuania that there was a bomb threat against the plane and ordered it to land. A Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet was scrambled to escort the plane. Belarus authorities then arrested 26-year-old journalist and activist Raman Pratasevich and his Russian girlfriend. 

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